Senate Bill No. 665: Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council Act

Bamboo is gaining in popularity as construction material as a result of the declining supply of wood and is now widely distributed in private lands in the lowlands as well as in forest lands.

On a global scale, the value of the world’s bamboo market was estimated to be US$8 billion1for traditional and non-traditional bamboo products.

It can be concluded that the development of the bamboo industry in the Philippines can be a vehicle for generating more jobs and self-employment opportunities, especially in the rural areas. However, this potential cannot be met until we address the issue of the low supply of the raw bamboo materials.

The reported demand for bamboo poles in the country by all industry sectors is about 22 million culms a year while the estimated supply of the preferred species bamboo, such as kawayan tinik, giant Bamboo, bulo, buho, bayog, kawayan killing, kayali and laak, is only about 10 million culms.

Though the government has previously attempted to spur the bamboo industry’s growth through Executive Order No. 879 in May 2010, which created the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC), we have yet to draft a national bamboo development plan.

One of the main reasons for this is that the Council was not imbued with sufficient power to direct other government agencies and the private sector that are members of the Council to formulate the industry development program. Furthermore, The Secretariat of the Council does not have permanent personnel and the Council does not have a regular budget.

The twenty million pesos (PhP20 million) that was originally allocated for the operations of the Council has long been expended and it has not been replenished. Furthermore, the budget request for the Council for 2016 has been scrapped by the Department of Budget and Management.

This Act seeks to remedy these issues so that the Council can effectively develop the bamboo industry to generate employment, help the bamboo export sector capture a greater market, promote environmental sustainability and help mitigate the impacts of climate change, and assist the government in achieving inclusive economic growth.

In view of the foregoing, immediate passage of the bill is earnestly sought. 


Bam: Bamboo Business Booming But…

Private bamboo stakeholders lamented that lack of supply may prevent the country from grabbing a lion’s share of the growing global market.
This was revealed during the Senate hearing on the status of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap conducted by the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship headed by Senator Bam Aquino.
According to different private bamboo furniture makers, there is high demand for their products but cannot keep up due to lack of supply.
Even the Department of Education (DepEd) said it cannot meet its mandate of sourcing 20 percent of their furniture needs such as desk, tables and chairs from bamboo furniture makers due to lack of suppliers.
During the hearing, stakeholders have pointed to the government’s lack of coordinated action in ensuring a steady supply of bamboo poles.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the country has around 50,572 hectares of bamboo forest.
However, it is not enough to cover the market’s monthly demand of eight million bamboo poles.
Under the National Greening Program, the government has allotted just one percent of the country’s 1.5 million hectares of forest as areas for bamboo planting.
For 2015, the DENR is targeting 3,086 hectares of bamboo plantation.
In line with this, Sen. Bam called on concerned government agencies and the private sector to align their plans and programs to properly address the supply dilemma the industry currently faces.
Sen. Bam said the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PDIBC), headed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), must take the lead in addressing the supply issue via a technical working group (TWG).
According to Sen. Bam, Executive Order 879 mandates the PBDIC to provide overall policy and program directions for all stakeholders in the bamboo industry.
The EO also tasked the government to reforest at least 500,000 hectares with bamboo as contribution to the ASEAN commitment of 20 million hectares of new forest by 2020.
“Why aren’t we hitting the target number of bamboo poles needed by the manufacturers,” asked Sen. Bam, adding that the DTI must clarify the roles of the concerned government agencies and other stakeholders under the EO.
“That will be a lost opportunity of income and livelihood for communities and for the economy,” Sen. Bam stressed.
“I would like to be able to address those concerns with recommendations coming from the PBIDC, upon consultation with all of the concerned individuals and institutions,” Sen. Bam added.
Sen. Bam is pushing for a clear bamboo industry roadmap as he sees the industry as another vehicle for the government’s inclusive growth program.
“If we have more communities planting bamboo and there are ready markets left and right to purchase these, that would be a waste if we don’t supply them,” said Sen. Bam.

Bam: Bamboo Industry Imperative to Country’s Growth

The country’s promising bamboo industry may lose its status as one of the world’s top exporters if it fails to meet the growing demand from local and international markets, a senator warned.

Based on the data from the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Senator Bam Aquino revealed that only 52,000 hectares of land in the country is planted with bamboo, which is not enough to cover the increasing market demand.

“The local market demand for bamboo products is estimated at P11 billion while the current global market demand is $7 billion and it is expected to increase to $15 to $20 billion in 2017,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“The main challenge is to make supply sufficient for its continuous and growing demand so we can grab a lion’s share of the market,” the senator added.

In 2010, Sen. Bam said the Philippines was the fifth largest bamboo exporter in the world.  From 2012-2014, the senator said P306.3 million worth of investments, P261.8 million sales and 13,103 jobs were generated by the country’s bamboo industry.

To keep the country’s status as one of the world’s top bamboo producers, Aquino has filed Senate Resolution No. 1203 seeking to conduct an inquiry on the status of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Roadmap.

Sen. Bam said the inquiry is aimed at aligning the country’s bamboo industry with the trade and environmental plans of the government, enabling it to fulfil demands from local and international markets.

“With no reliable inventory of available bamboos nationwide, there is an urgent need for a proper and timely coordination among relevant government agencies, non-government organizations, academe and business sector to determine a concrete industry roadmap,” the senator said.

The senator added that the country’s bamboo industry has a huge economic potential and it can be used to improve the lives of people in the countryside.

“The return on investment on bamboo is also lot faster since it can be frequently harvested, making it an attractive and sustainable community project even for small farmers,” Sen. Bam said.

In 2010, the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBDIC), through Executive Order No. 879, was created to provide overall policy and program directions for all stakeholders.

Under EO 879, the government is tasked to reforest at least 500,000 hectares with bamboo as part of the one million hectares as designated areas as contribution to the ASEAN commitment of 20 million hectares of new forest by 2020.

“While the bamboo is planted to protect our environment, we also need to realize its economic potential as communities will have livelihood and job opportunities because of the growing demand,” Sen. Bam stressed.

The EO also directed the use of bamboo for at least 25 percent of the desk and other bamboo furniture requirements of public elementary and secondary schools, aside from prioritizing the use of bamboo in furniture fixtures and other construction requirements of government facilities.

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